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Elon Musk expands empire

SUN. | 05-22-22 | OPINION

     Billionaire businessman Elon Musk recently purchased Twitter, one of the largest social media platforms in the world. Not only did this purchase come with a hefty price tag; it has led to a lot of controversy as well. 

     Since its start in 2006, Twitter has been run as a publicly owned company. This means that Twitter is managed by several shareholders and every choice for the company is made democratically through this group. Musk’s decision to buy this company makes Twitter privately owned, meaning that he gets to make every decision for one of the largest social media platforms in the world.

     The main issue of controversy is how Musk plans to change Twitter's censorship policy. This policy relates to regulations surrounding graphic violence, adult content and sensitive media. As a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist”, Musk plans to do away with Twitter's sensitive media policy completely. This would open up space for online harassers and trolls to spread

elon musk

Graphic by Jack Albritton

misinformation and promote hate speech. In an interview with the TED organization, Musk said that if a tweet is in the gray area between hate speech and opinion, let the tweet exist.

     Musk’s other plans for the future of Twitter consist of publicizing its algorithm and trying to get rid of all bot accounts. In addition to his flawed idea of promoting “free speech”, there are a lot of issues and inconsistencies with these ideas.

     Musk says that making Twitter's algorithm public information would improve the transparency of social media companies and allow other programmers to see their impressively complicated code. On the other hand, opening up the code to Twitter increases the risk of hackers being able to utilize or exploit the system, so the problems with this issue definitely outweigh the benefits.

      While getting rid of spam accounts sounds good in theory, Musk hasn’t been very clear on how he plans to do this. Before his purchase, Twitter already had a pre-established, strict policy for regulating spam bots, so there is very little that Musk can actually do to fix this problem.

      I think that Musk’s decision to buy Twitter was irrational and irresponsible, especially coming from the perspective of the most influential businessman of our generation. Turning Twitter into a privately owned company promotes the possibility of corruption and censorship, even though Musk says he plans to do the opposite.

      I believe the best way for Musk to go about this situation is to create a team of people who are familiar with working for large social networks. With no prior experience working with social media companies, Musk isn’t in the best position to make decisions by himself. If he wants to effectively transition into ownership and maintain the stability of Twitter, it's important to make sure he has a competent support team behind him. 

     Even with my suggestions, the growing amount of social media users and influence makes it extremely important for these platforms to be secure and properly managed. With Twitter being one of these core platforms, I’m not sure Elon Musk is in the position to do this effectively.

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